Cochlear Implant

Cochlear Implant

Hearing loss is a hidden curse. No one can tell by looking at you that you can’t hear well. Yet the affliction often prevents you from fully engaging with other people and getting the most out of your experiences. If you’ve previously had fully functioning hearing, it’s especially true. At the first signs of hearing loss, see your doctor. In the case of young children born with deafness, visit an ear, nose and throat doctor at the Medex Diagnostic and Treatment Center in Queens, New York. Your ENT doctor may suggest using a cochlear implant. This isn’t an easy decision, but one that requires a discussion with a caring, understanding hearing specialist. Call today to talk to a qualified ENT specialist.

Cochlear implants were first approved by the FDA in the 1980s. As of 2018, about 60,000 adults and 40,000 children in the United States have received them. You may qualify for cochlear implants if you have severe hearing loss and if other methods, such as hearing aids, haven’t worked for you. At the Medex Diagnostic and Treatment Center in Queens, NY, getting cochlear implants involves a team of specialists, including:

The process can be intensive, and it’s usually not done unless you’ve tried every other treatment. But for those who need them, cochlear implants change the quality of your life for the better. Your ENT specialist at Medex is your go-to professional for more information about cochlear implants. Schedule an appointment to talk to an expert to decide if they’re right for you.

How Do Cochlear Implants Work?

Cochlear implants work in a completely different way than hearing aids. Whereas hearing aids just make sounds louder, cochlear implants take sound signals from the environment and send them directly to your auditory nerve. This allows sounds to skip right past your cochlea, which may be damaged if you have serious hearing loss.

The cochlea is in your inner ear, past the ear drum. This part of the ear works to change sounds into electrical signals that tell the brain what you’re hearing. With cochlear implants, this work is done by a small device instead of your own cochlea. The device has four parts:

  1. A microphone that takes in sounds
  2. A processor that arranges speech sounds
  3. A transmitter that receives those sounds and converts them into electrical signals
  4. An electrode array, which sends the signals to different parts of the auditory nerve

The Cochlear Implant Process

The first part of the process involves consultation, during which you typically go through several screening processes, such as a:

  • Inner ear exam
  • Speech test
  • Hearing test
  • Balance test
  • MRI or CT scan
  • Psychological evaluation

These processes help your doctor determine whether a cochlear implant is likely to work well for you, as well as if the procedure is necessary and safe for you. Your ENT specialist at the Medex Diagnostic and Treatment Center in Queens acts as your advocate and point of contact during your consultation and surgery, which happen at the multi-specialty facility.

The actual surgery involves anesthesia, but the procedure is minimally invasive. Most patients return home the same day. You’ll need several follow-up appointments, since there are some parts that need to be added to your implant. The device also needs to be custom programmed to work best for you.

Complications Are Rare

This procedure is safe, but it’s normal for you to experience dizziness or pressure where the surgery was done. You may even feel some nausea after the procedure. Risks are rare when you undergo the process at Medex, where exceptional care always minimizes risks. All surgeries put you in some risk. Cochlear implant surgery sometimes causes temporary:

  • Facial paralysis
  • Taste problems
  • Bleeding
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Infection
  • Spinal fluid leakage

You’ll most likely experience sounds differently with a cochlear implant, and there’s normally a learning process before the device is fully effective for you. Cochlear implants can also be expensive, since insurance doesn’t always cover them. In very rare cases, cochlear implants have to be removed.

Relearning to Hear

Despite these complications, cochlear implants change your life, especially if you could no longer participate in conversations due to your hearing loss. Since cochlear implants send signals directly to your brain, you need time to relearn how to hear things, and some sounds may seem unfamiliar for a while. Your ENT doctor at Medex — along with your whole team — arranges coaching and follow-ups to help you acclimate.

In most cases, you’re better off if you have a shorter period of serious hearing damage before you get cochlear implants. This is also true for young children, who learn to function with their implants better the sooner they get them. Contact the Medex Diagnostic and Treatment Center in Queens, NY to learn more and schedule your evaluation.

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